“I think it is very hard to compare the current team with the Invincibles side. Times have changed since then, the football style and mentality has changed since my time with the club. It has been ten years from one generation to another, but what I would advise them is that they must say to themselves, ‘I want to be better than that team’. They don’t need to say it to others because it will add a lot of pressure but they must want to be close to us guys, to achieve what we achieved. They must want to write their name in the club’s history books like we did, the side that I am so proud to be a part of.”
“They must prove this to themselves every day. This is how you succeed in football. You must give 100% every time.”
Having been beaten by Stoke last weekend, a campaign entirely without defeat is already impossible of course, but the former midfielder is not expecting such an incredible feat to ever again be replicated; simply that Arsene Wenger’s men manage to put together a sustained fight for the Premier League title. If they don’t, he fears the worst for a boss he still clearly has a great deal of admiration for.
“If Arsenal are not challenging for the title after December, of course people are going to be upset again. I just hope it’s not as hostile as before. For me it’s a strange reaction, but I understand the situation with the fans, because it has been a long time since Arsenal won the Premier League. The fans must remember that they have still won special trophies like the FA Cup, and I just hope that this season they can change their attitude towards Wenger. For the players it is very hard when they don’t get the support from their own fans; it is hard to absorb that pressure and the expectation-level, and that has an impact on results. I feel that the team will push on in the right direction this season.”
Whatever the Brazilian version of a Rolls Royce is, then that’s what Silva was during his six trophy-laden years in North London. An industrious yet elegant World Cup winner who went by the nickname of the ‘Invisible Wall’, the 40 year old elevated the box-to-box role to a standard rarely before witnessed in English football. All of this is why his no-nonsense advice for Jack Wilshere should make the combative midfielder sit up and take note.
“It is down to Wilshere and Wilshere alone. His has great ability he knows that; everybody knows that, so he just needs to concentrate on his game. He needs to forget about what is around him, just focus on football. I could say something to him but if he doesn’t understand the importance of focus, then it is his career. He has to question himself; ‘What do I want for myself for this season and the future?’
“He has an opportunity and it’s not very often someone has the opportunity that he has. Arsene and the club are giving him an opportunity and he has to grab it.”
While the England international has grabbed the headlines for all of the wrong reasons this past week after his sending off in an under 23 game, the rest of the summer’s back pages has been dominated by the uncertain future of Alexis Sanchez. With the end of the transfer window in sight however and the magical Chilean still at the club Silva is hopeful that the protracted saga is finally drawing to a close.
“I hope Sanchez stays because it would be hard for the club to lose such a great player, after all that he’s done in the last few years. Arsenal gave Sanchez an opportunity, but of course on his side he has contributed a lot with his goals and ability. I hope that it ends well for both sides and that we keep hold of him, and it would also be a good decision for him because Arsenal are one of the biggest clubs in the world. Maybe he is considering things that we don’t know about, things from his point of view that he’s dealing with on a daily basis.”
Should Sanchez indeed stay he will form an exciting attacking duo with Arsenal’s major signing of the summer Alexandre Lacazette. Arriving from Lyon for just shy of £47m, the striker comes with all of the hype that usually accompanies such a fee, and is widely expected to be a prolific finisher once he settles in his new surroundings. Silva insists the early signs are positive.
“Lacazette has started well in my opinion. Arsenal spent big money on him, so there were always going to be big expectations. I’m sure he is getting the support of his team-mates and Arsene Wenger but he also needs the fans to support him. If he gets that support and feels embraced, he thinks ‘okay, I am being embraced; now I must give something back’. He will do well for the club.”
Gilberto Silva’s quickfire questions
Q: Score prediction for Liverpool v Arsenal
A: It is always hard to play at Anfield, but 1-0 to Arsenal
Bet: Liverpool v Arsenal betting
Q: First goalscorer
A: Mesut Ozil
Q: Who will win the Premier League
A: I believe Arsenal have the capability to do it
Bet: Premier League Winner betting
Q: Who will be the Premier League’s leading goalscorer
A: Harry Kane is in good shape but I cannot go for that side. I will go for Lacazette. Let’s put some pressure on him.
Bet: Premier League’s Top goalscorer betting
Q: Who will win the Champions League
A: Real Madrid
Bet: Champions League Winner betting